blaine

Freezing the Ball: Catching the Pitcher’s Pitch

There’s nothing more satisfying that capturing a photo you’ve wanted to get for a long time. For me, it was freezing a ball tack sharp between the pitcher and the batter with both out of focus. On Thursday I shot the Blaine vs Lynden Christian varsity boys baseball game for The Bellingham Herald. There was not a lot of action on the field, so I concentrated on the pitchers.

Total Concentration

Blaine pitcher Brandon Watts (12) pitches to Lynden Christian third baseman Colby Flint during the first inning on Thursday afternoon Mar. 30, 2017, at Lynden Christian High School in Lynden, Wash. Blaine defeated Lynden Christian 12 to 5. (© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald)

Blaine pitcher Brandon Watts (12) pitches to Lynden Christian third baseman Colby Flint during the first inning on Thursday afternoon Mar. 30, 2017, at Lynden Christian High School in Lynden, Wash. Blaine defeated Lynden Christian 12 to 5. (© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald)

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#OldFashioned #4thOfJuly in #Blaine: A #VisualOrgy

My FitBit said I walked over 12,000 steps or 5 miles, my face is sunburned, shoulders hurt, and shot 1500 images while writing 15 note pad pages of names. But it was damned worth it.

The noise of the crowd and the blaring of horns filling my ears, the smell of horse manure filling my nostrils, and my eyes flooded with the Red, White, and Blue as everyone celebrated Independence day.

Hooping it up:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - An energetic Alex Gehringer of Blaine entertains the crowd during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – An energetic Alex Gehringer of Blaine entertains the crowd during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash., on Friday July , 2014. Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year’s parade.

Yesterday I covered the annual Blaine’s Old-Fashioned 4th of July for the Bellingham Herald. And as much as I like to cover breaking news or sports, good features also get my blood going. Especially a parade.

Decked Out:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Maggie Breckenridge of Blaine hands out candy during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Maggie Breckenridge of Blaine hands out candy.

It was a visual orgy. It’s my term I use when it’s not difficult to shoot photos. Some use the term “like catching butterfies.” But let’s be real. Everywhere you turned there was a picture to be made.

It was a Visual Orgy. And yes, I’m trademarking it.

Canadian and Proud:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Canadian Aiden Mufti, 12, of Vancouver, B.C., watches the festivities during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Canadian Aiden Mufti, 12, of Vancouver, B.C., watches the festivities.

To begin with, H Street was full of people browsing the venders and food trucks. I did have an assignment to photograph poffertjes being made. However, the vender who made them was there. Scratch that assignment.

Family Celebrating:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Barry Dyck (cq) of Bellingham and his daughter Piper, 4, cheer as the floats pass by during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014. Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Barry Dyck (cq) of Bellingham and his daughter Piper, 4, cheer as the floats pass by.

That left me to concentrate just covering the masses. From the kids, to the classic cars, to the parade, to the entertainers, I had plenty to shoot. But, one must be smart.

You can go out and just “spray and pray” everything. Or you can stop for a few minutes, breathe, observe your surroundings, and then shoot methodically.

Equine Patriots:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Members of the Rodeo Cowgirls Drill Team entertain the crowd during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Members of the Rodeo Cowgirls Drill Team entertain the crowd.

For instance, rather than shoot 3 or 4 different things at the same time, Pick a subject and work that. Choose a vendor and photograph just that vendor as they make their product. Shoot wide, then tight, then work different angles.

The move onto your next subject. This keeps you more focused and on track when documenting large events.

Sharing the Pride:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - American Legion youth volunteers pass out miniature American flags as they work the parade route during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014. Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 entries meaner the route.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – American Legion youth volunteers pass out miniature American flags to the thousands lined along Peace Portal Drive as they watch the almost 100 entries meander along.

As the parade was getting ready to start, I walked up and down the route on Peace Portal Drive to find a few well decorated people. After “marking” a few areas I wanted to cover during the parade, I made my way to the announcer’s booth. This gave me a great vantage point to not only photograph from, but also so I could listen to what the entries were and make notes.

Belting Some Tunes:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Robyn Gillespie of Langly, B.C., entertains the crowd after the end of the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash., on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 entries of all types.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Robyn Gillespie of Langley, B.C., entertains the crowd after the end of the parade. The background was cluttered and lighting poor. I opted for a low angle and waited for the moment.

But, the difficulty with such a large and fluid event is that you have to be fast on your feet as well. I tried my butt off to get the names of the two little girls running around everywhere as they gave away American flags. I ended up bailing as I lost track of them.

One Nation:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Isabella Ramirez, 7, left, and Sandra Cortez, 12, with the Chicas Reina dance troupe out of Ferndale, entertain the spectators during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Isabella Ramirez, 7, left, and Sandra Cortez, 12, with the Chicas Reina dance troupe out of Ferndale, entertain the spectators.

One of the most intriguing subjects I photographer was 12-year-ol Canadian resident Aiden Mufti of Vancouver, B.C. He painted his face in the Stars and Stripes. I was a pretty cool feeling to find out our neighbors to the north appreciate We the People.

Proud Veteran:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – American Legion riders ready their bikes before the start of the parade.

As the parade continued, one entertainer had more energy than a perpetual motion machine. Blaine resident Alex Gehringer hula-hooped the entire parade route. As with most of the entries, he was very entertaining.

Smile!!!

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – As the parade was moving rather quickly, I ran in front of this float while firing a few frames. I did not get their names, but I like the photo.

Since the parade was over, I was able to spend a little time shooting the performers on stage. Sister duo Robyn & Ryleigh Gillespie were playing. They sounded pretty damned good.  Here’s their website for more information: Robyn & Ryleigh

As I worked them, I could not get a clean angle. So I opted for a low angle shot and worked the moment and guitarist Robyn played. It’s a pretty OK shot. Works.

As I was nearing my deadline, I opted to finish with that and head back to the paper to finish up. Made the front page and 3 photo package on page 2. Not bad.

And at the end of the day, instead of going out to fight crowds so I can photograph fireworks, I opted to stay in and enjoy a night at home. Plus, my feet hurt too much from those 12000 or more steps.

Click here for more photo’s from this year’s Blaine’s Old Fashioned 4th of July Parade on The Bellingham Herald website.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

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Paul “pablo” Conrad

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NWC Track & Field Championship in Bellingham, WA

This past Friday, Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., was host for the Northwest Conference Track & Field Championships. All the High Schools in the area participated. The field filled with students from all over the Northwest.

Synchronicity:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Lynden's Hannah Hommes, left, Anacortes' Lexia Hall, and Nooksack Valley's Alex Parson trail in Section 2 of the Girls 300m Hurdles during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday April 25, 2-14.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Lynden’s Hannah Hommes, left, Anacortes’ Lexia Hall, and Nooksack Valley’s Alex Parson trail in Section 2 of the Girls 300m Hurdles during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday April 25, 2-14.

As a volunteer photographer with the Northwest Conference Athletics, I had a front row seat to the organized chaos. Luckily I’ve shot events like this before, so putting my “Press Hat” on, I rambled off to find my assignment: Long and Triple Jump with some track as they circled passed my position.

Amano Landing:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Bellingham High School senior Christian Amano of Bellingham, Wash,. lands in the pit during his attempt at the long jump druing the NWC Track & Field competition at Civic Field in Bellingham. Amano ended 8th overall with a distance of 18 feet, 11 inches.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Bellingham High School senior Christian Amano of Bellingham, Wash,. lands in the pit during his attempt at the long jump during the NWC Track & Field competition at Civic Field in Bellingham. Amano ended 8th overall with 18 feet, 11 inches.

As I was shooting this not as a photojournalist but as an event photographer, my goal was to get as many of the kids as possible. Afterall, who doesn’t want photos of their kids as the land in soft sand while making funny faces.

Beautiful Backlighting:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Burlington-Edison High School senior Megan Wilburg of Burlington, Wash,. lands in the pit during her attempt at the long jump during the NWC Track & Field competition at Civic Field in Bellingham. Wilburg ended fifth overall with a distance of 15 feet 8.75 inches.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Burlington-Edison High School senior Megan Wilburg of Burlington, Wash,. lands in the pit during her attempt at the long jump during the NWC Track & Field competition at Civic Field in Bellingham. Wilburg ended fifth overall with 15 feet, 8.75 inches.

There were multiple challenges I had to overcome: Backlighting of the competitors, and the girls and boys competing at the same time.

When I arrived at the long jump pits, I saw that they had two parallel stations: one for boys and the other for girls. My thinking was they would rotate girls competitors then boys. But, no.

Hard Landing:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Burlington-Edison's Luke Tackett lands in the pit during the first Flight of the boy's long jump at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Tackett did not qualify for the finals.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Burlington-Edison’s Luke Tackett lands in the pit during the first Flight of the boy’s long jump at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Tackett did not qualify for the finals.

They ran both at the same time and I was hoping at least the competitors would be staggered. But, no. One competitor down each lane at the same time.

So I had to go from one lane and shoot them as they landed, swing my lens to the next lane and hopefully catch that competitor as they landed. Not too difficult. Unless they ran at EXACTLY the same time, then I just concentrated on one.

The other challenge was the incredible backlighting. As it was mid-afternoon when I started shooting, the sun was about 75 degrees above the horizon and to the left. To overcome this, I used the “Sunny 16 Rule” and overexposed by one stop. This gave me workable highlights without dropping out too much detail in the shadow areas.

During the breaks from the long jump action, I drifted towards the track and shot the runners as they passed me. For the photo below, I panned as they went by. I closed down my aperture all the way down and overexposed by one stop (which only blew out the most extreme highlights) to get a shutter speed of 1/30th. I wanted the background blurred with a sharp runners face.

Panning to Accentuate Speed:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Anacortes High School senior Grace Dzieciuch battles her second lap in the Girl's 3200 Meter Run during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash. Dzieciuch finishied in 13th with a time of 12m51.7s.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Anacortes High School senior Grace Dzieciuch battles her second lap in the Girl’s 3200 Meter Run during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash. Dzieciuch finished in 13th with a time of 12m, 51.7s.

By the time the finals began for the Long Jump, the Sun had settled too low and the light turned horrible. The flare was relentless and ruined most pictures. So to challenge myself and get something different, I shot from the side.

Switching from my telephoto to my wide-angle (17-35 f/2.8), I took a few test shots as the athletes warmed up. I picked a spot on the ground perpendicular from where I thought the apex of the arc the jumpers created as the went up and over the pit.

Sailing Through:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sedro-Woolley's Mason Elms flys over the landing pit of the long jump during finals at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Elms won 4th place with a distance of 20 feet, 3 inches.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Sedro-Woolley’s Mason Elms flys over the landing pit of the long jump during finals at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Elms won 4th place with 20 feet, 3 inches.

Once I figured out where the apex would be about, I placed my camera on the ground right on the edge of the pit, angled it up, and shot a few test frames as to get the crew on the other side of the pit on the bottom of the frame. This helped exaggerate the height of the jumpers and kept them in frame.

As the competitors jumped from the line, there was a distinct “thump” and that was my cue to begin shooting. As they went over I watched then quit shooting before they landed. It worked for a few, but the above photo was my favorite as the athlete had the best “pose.” To me it shows him really pushing it to get the last few inches.

Hand Off:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sehome's Girls hand off during the final lap of the 4x400m relay during NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Sehome won second place with a time of 4 mins, 8.1 secs.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Sehome’s Girls hand off during the last lap of the 4x400m relay during NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Sehome won second place with a time of 4 mins, 8.1 secs.

When the Long Jump competition was over, I moseyed to the finish line and began shooting track. There were still a few races left. Mainly the long relay races.

So once again, I used panning to help accentuate the speed of the runners and try to capture the handoff. I got a few photos, but nothing I would rant and rave about. I just like the two I posted.

Reaching:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Lynden Christian's Brianna Bruneau gets the baton from Emily Sytsma during the final lap of the Girl's 4x400 realy at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash. The Lynden Christian team of four won First Place with a time of 4 min and 7.29 secs.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Lynden Christian’s Brianna Bruneau gets the baton from Emily Sytsma during the last lap of the Girl’s 4×400 relay at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash. The Lynden Christian team of four won First Place with a time of 4 min and 7.29 secs.

While I walked around searching for photos, I noticed the reflection of the field in the press box window at the top of one of the westside sections. I liked how you could see the field and the spectators in the stand. I worked it for a few minutes.

Later in the afternoon or early evening, the light on the north side stands was dramatic. I worked it as much as I could to get something nice. But everyone was just sitting in their seats. As I turned to walk away, the little girl on the left started running up and down the stairs. So I shot a few frames.

Running Up:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – A little girl runs up the stairs of the east stands during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash.


After editing the photo in Photoshop, I zoomed in tighter and liked the composition. I just don’t know which one I like better. What do you think?

Running Up – Tight:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - A little girl runs up the stairs in the east stands during the NWC Track & Field Championship at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., during the early evening April 25, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – A little girl runs up the stairs in the east stands during the NWC Track & Field Championship at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., during the early evening April 25, 2014.

In the last shot, I was just waiting for a race to begin when I looked up and saw the reflection in the press box windows. I like it so I found a spot that would give me some balance in the image. It’s a quickie, but after coming home and editing, I really wish I would’ve shot just the windows super tight.

Reflecting:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – The field is reflected in the press box windows of the west stands during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday afternoon April 25, 2014.

Again, which of the photos is your best and why? Do you have a questions about technique such as shooting into the sun? Or Panning? Or keeping sane in all the chaos?

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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